(It’s been a while since we received a guest post from Dane Prokofiev (who writes everywhere and has his own blog at Zetalambmary), but today he returns with an argument about why it’s worthwhile to use band comparisons in music reviews.)
I used to dislike comparing a band whose album I was reviewing to another band in my written reviews and only resorted to doing so when I found absolutely nothing interesting about the band’s music to be worthy of description through the use of metaphors. Ever since my exposure to Saussurean semiotics, however, I have changed my mind.
Saussurean semiotics posits that there is no intrinsic connection between words and their meanings. That is to say, it is not natural for the word “dog” to refer to the concept of dog-ness. The word “dog” is a linguistic construct, something that is distinct from the concept of dog-ness. What English-speaking people label as “dog” is labeled as “الكلب” by Arabic-speaking people , “chien” by French-speaking people, “hunder” by Icelandic-speaking people, “犬” by Japanese-speaking people, and “狗” by Mandarin-speaking people. The fact that people use different words for the same object in different languages means that there is no particular connection between the word “dog” and the thing that we refer to as a “dog”.
The product of this arbitrary relationship between the signifier (“dog”) and the signified (the concept of dog-ness) is called the sign, which is the mental image that is conjured in a person’s mind when he or she sees the signifier and understands that it is referring to the signified, aka certain properties that constitute the thing-ness of something.